Double Blue Bash

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A funny thing happened at the Wiser’s Double Blue Bash on Saturday night. Actually, a lot of funny things happened.  That’s the way it goes when Adriano Belli and Rob Murphy get a microphone in front of them.

With pounding live music, a couple of cheerleader performances and an extra dose of Roughrider green in attendance (it’s like that everywhere, isn’t it?) the joint had jump in it from the get-go.

Belli worked the room, planting kisses on anyone and everyone. Sure, he sucked up to the ‘Riders faithful by picking Saskatchewan to “kick ass” in the Grey Cup game.  That was offset by the fact that the ’97 game was being played on a giant video screen, much to the chagrin of the greenshirts in attendance (Argos won that game, over Saskatchewan, 47-23).

Chad Owens
felt the love when he arrived to talk about his Most Outstanding Special Teams Player award. Damon Allen made an appearance (said Henry Burris was full value for his Outstanding Player Award), as did Argos owner David Braley and club President Bob Nicholson.

Former SB Derrell ‘Mookie’ Mitchell dropped by too, reminiscing about the night (during his rookie season) that he was introduced to red wine (in copious amounts) by a friend.

A hard lesson was learned the next day (red wine hangovers are notorious, don’t you know?) and Mookie swears he’s only ever had ONE glass of red since.
Although, Saturday night at Grey Cup seems like a good night to revisit old habits, doesn’t it?

Michael “Pinball” Clemons‘ turn with the microphone was particularily dazzling. Part comedy routine; part pep talk; part old-time revival, Clemons wowed the crowd with a high – octane soliloquy.  He had them eating out of his hand with his audience participation routine (“When I say Grey, you say Cup…”) and then had chests pumped out to the maximum when he related how proud he is to live in Canada and be a part of the CFL family. Honest to goodness, I saw a young woman standing right beside the stage with her hands clasped over her heart, looking up at him with blessed joy.

However, and this was strange, one football fan asked a friend of mine who Pinball was.  Isn’t that kind of like a devout catholic not knowing who the Pope is?

Out into the Edmonton night I went, pondering that one.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Link: Double Blue Bash,,[/box]

Getting Into The Spirit In Edmonton

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You know something has to be good if, during Grey Cup Week, you set alarm for 6:45 am in order to attend. The Spirit of Edmonton Breakfast, at the Shaw Conference Centre did not disappoint.  What follows is a timeline of some of my personal highlights:

7:39 – Entered the ballroom.  The band was playing “Roadhouse Blues” at an incredible volume.  For a moment,  I think it’s still last night.

8:02 – Master of Ceremonies Mark Scholz performs the ceremonial Bailey’s cap removal.  Sorry, Mark, I’d removed mine 20 minutes earlier.

8:04 – A call goes out for any Newfoundlanders in the room.  One guy stands up and hollers.  Holy that…DANNY WILLIAMS!? (I could be

8:09 –  Food line opens.  As I make my way toward the buffet, I inadvertently cross through the Castrol dancers as they are about to begin. Emcee yells at me to get off  the dance floor.  Hey, I’m with ya, buddy, nobody needs to see that.

8:29 – The first Sluice Juice sighting! About time!

8:29 and 10 seconds – I want another Sluice Juice!

8:45 – The Calgary Stampeder cheerleaders hit the floor in skimpy halter tops.  Sadly, I’d already seen two guys in similar outfits.  And neither was Henry Burris.

9:03 – The question is asked: “Who’s leaving here and going to work hammered?”
A lot, I mean a LOT of hands go up.  Enjoy a productive day of commerce, Edmonton.

9:04 – A Ukrainian dance troupe takes the floor.  Their choregraphy is so good, I see Arland Bruce feverishly taking notes in preparation for next season’s touchdown celebrations.

9:05 – Isn’t my typing remarkably good after that much Sluice Juice?

9:06 – Isn’t my typing remarkably…uhh…oh yeah.

9:32 – Blue Bomber cheerleader asks if I’d like to buy a calendar.  I say “sure, if you’ll buy one of mine.”  She backpedals like Byron Parker.

9:45 – Here comes the Eskimo Cheer Team.  Seriously, they might be the best on the planet. I mean, somebody alert Guy Laliberte, he could build an entire Cirque De Soleil show based on their exploits.

They lift Spirit  Chairman Bruce Keltie up so high…that he could almost see eternity (gosh, I love Anne Murray).

10:32 – Okay, I’m back after a power nap.  What’d I miss?

10:33 – Bagpipers!  Love it!  Fire it up, guys!

10:34 – Okay, I DO love bagpipes.  But after a night of carousing and several goblets of sluice, the old noggin’ can’t take it.  Time to beat a hasty retreat.  Well done, Spirit!  You are the Danny Williams of breakfast parties. Yes, that IS a compliment.

[box type=”info”]Link: Getting Into The Spirit,[/box]

Hangin’ With Big Ange

Watch out, Prime Minister Harper.  Big Ange is coming for you.

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Big Ange, of course, is legendary Ti-Cat quarterback tracker Angelo Mosca.

He was front and centre at Friday’s CFL Alumni Legends Luncheon, tackling every issue before him – including politics.

Mosca is emotionally invested in the Alumni Association, to the point where he envisions knocking on the PM’s door in order to get some financial help for the group. “You better believe it, I’ll be there in a New York second,”  he said, in response to  the question of whether he’d seek out the Prime Minister himself, for some help.

“I’ve already had some people, who want to make a commitment, but they’re not sure yet,” he said of some unnamed politicians. “But I’m gonna make sure they make a commitment.”

Mosca told me that he knows of “five or six guys” who have dementia or cancer, who “don’t have any money.” And he wants to help.  Even if it means a trip or two to Parliament Hill to twist some arms.

Mosca took the stage at the luncheon, with  few other legends to spin a some yarns about days gone by.  Prior to that, I asked him how it felt to be elbow to elbow with some of them again. “I love it.  Tom Wilkinson…he and I were inducted the same year and he’s the only quarterback I know who wears a XXXL at this stage of life,” he said, with a devilish laugh.

What about your TiCats, Big Ange?
“We have some pretty good football players on that team.  But we’re too nice.  We’re not the Tiger-Cats.”

In other words, not enough eating of the raw?
“I’d have brought the house about eight or nine times in a row (against Argonaut quarterback Cleo Lemon in the East Semi-Final) and let’s find out what he could really do.”

Prediction time, Mr. Mosca: Who’s gonna win the Grey Cup?
“What I saw  in the third and fourth quarters (in the West Final) from the Saskatchewan Roughriders,  oh that was awesome. That’s what defence of old was all about.  And I think that this team, the Roughriders, are really ready to knock on the door.”

The way Big Ange is ready to knock on Prime Minister Harper’s door.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Link: Hangin’ With Big Ange,[/box]

Queen Of The Argos Wouldn’t Miss Grey Cup

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The CFL is blessed with passionate fans, from coast to coast. It’s hard to imagine, though, more love for a football team and a league coming in as wee a package as little Lori Bursey. Lori stands all of five-foot-three, but when she talks about the team and the league she loves, she gets so pumped up that I’m sure she can look any defensive lineman in the eye.

President of the “Friends of the Argonauts” Fan Club, Lori is back at yet another Grey Cup (her 29th) and she couldn’t be happier about it unless, of course, her favourite team just happened to be playing on Sunday.

Despite her lingering heartbreak over the Argonauts’ loss to the Montreal Alouettes in last Sunday’s Eastern Final, Lori has her Grey Cup fever appropriately  stoked.

You see, for Lori, Grey Cup week is akin to Christmas eve for an 8 year old, with all the anticipation and energy building to unwrapping the gift of a championship game the next day.  Actually, it’s bigger than that.
[quote]This is Disneyworld for adults[/quote]
When asked if she could celebrate only Christmas OR Grey Cup, she doesn’t hesitate in giving Christmas the heave ho.

“This is Disneyworld for adults,” says Bursey, sitting in the lobby of the Westin Hotel. “The game is really secondary to all the friendships I’ve developed over
the years.  It’s like a huge family reunion. There’s a common bond we all share and it doesn’t matter which team you root for.”

If there were a hall of fame for CFL fans (hmmm, maybe there SHOULD be) Lori Bursey would be a first ballot inductee. She attends practice on a regular basis, treats the players to an annual barbecue at training camp, makes yearly road trips to see her team in enemy stadiums. and has fostered an almost maternal link with the players.

It’s not uncommon to see Lori just about completely disappear in a loving bear-hug from one of “her boys.” Along with her partner, Ron Keffer, and a host of volunteers, Bursey has turned the annual Friends of the Argonauts Cornroast into a must-attend event, and over the years has raised some Eighty thousand dollars for charity.

All of this great passion for her team and her league comes to Grey Cup, year after year, after year.

“My personal favourite is Spirit of Edmonton.  It’s where the people always congregate.  If you ever want to find me late at night, (Spirit of Edmonton) is where I am.”

So it’s Spirit of Edmonton number 29 for Lori Bursey, perhaps the biggest football fan in all of Toronto.  Then will come number 30, and 31 and 32….
“I will never ever miss this.  I tell people that if one year I’m not at Grey Cup, it’s because I’m dead.  And I just want you to hoist a drink in my honour.”

Hard to imagine Argo football without Lori Bursey.  Hard to imagine a Grey Cup Festival without her shining CFL spirit.  If you see her, introduce yourself. If you love the CFL, you’re welcome in her family. Just don’t make fun of the Argos.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Link: “Queen of the Argos”,[/box]